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Oct 24, 2013 5:00 PM by Tony Spehar

Quality of life report documents challenges for Pikes Peak region

On Thursday morning the Pikes Peak United Way released the findings of their 2013 quality of life report, which reveals numerous challenges the Pikes Peak region is facing in the coming year.

The report covers 11 areas affecting the quality of life of citizens in the county: arts, built environment, community engagement, economy, education, health, natural environment, recreation, safety, social well-being and transportation.

The report lists many challenges the city of Colorado Springs and the rest of the Pikes Peak region must face. One of the biggest issues is the economy, according to the report our region continues to show slow economic growth when compared to similar areas around the country.

The unemployment rate in the region remains above the national average, something those looking for work at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center know all too well.

"Many of the jobs basically they want someone to have prior experience and of course how can you get the experience unless you get the job first and then have the experience really?" explained Ivan Robinson, who was looking for a better job on Thursday afternoon.

The problem, according to the report, is there aren't enough businesses that bring in money from outside the region and there's a serious lack of workers between the age of 25 and 44.

"We used to have a pretty good manufacturing technology sector 10 or 12 years ago and we really lost that and haven't been successful in replacing it," explained economist Fred Crowley. "Manufacturing is important because it's the best spin-off of other jobs in the community."

According to Crowley, it's not going to be easy for city leaders to remake our economy. He advised that finding something unique and special about the region aside from great views and air quality would help give the area an edge in attracting business.

"They're trying," Crowley said of elected officials in the area. "It's just that everyone else is trying and it's a very competitive environment."

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach told News 5 is focusing on three projects to get the local economy back on track. The first is to revitalize the city's airport, the second is to try and take full advantage of opportunities brought by the new UCCS medical campus and the third relies on his City for Champions project which he claims will bring millions to the city and boost business downtown.

"We're mired in really a very sluggish state right now, we have very high unemployment, the highest unemployment in the Front Range," Bach explained. "A lot of younger people especially are out of work, so we've got to redouble our efforts to try and stimulate jobs in our community."

On Thursday Bach made a call for action based on the quality of life report, asking all elected officials to focus on one factor affecting quality of life and work together as a team to make life better for everyone.

Ivan Robinson said he's hopeful that things will get better, but believes it will be a long road to recovery.

"It's going to take time, of course, with any economy with politics involved," Robinson said with a laugh. "You know how that goes."

It wasn't all bad news in Thursday's report, housing construction has improved for the past three-years as well as volunteerism and charitable giving.

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